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Hand on the Bridle Review by Kim Kargbo

By Kathleen A. MacLeod
Lamplighter Publishing
PO Box 777
Waverly, PA 18471

Hand on the Bridle acquaints us with Gavin, a teenager in 19th-century Scotland. He lives in the country with his widowed mother and two sisters, but when he begins to be a bit unruly, his mother sends him to stay with his older brother, Jim, a pastor in a town some ways off. He has never really cared for his older brother, but his mother insists, and so he goes, but with a chip on his shoulder.

While staying at the Manse with Jim, Gavin meets the teenage neighbor children, who also attend his school but don't really have anything to do with church. They are being raised by their grandmother who vacillates between doting on them and ignoring them. Their influence on Gavin is not completely positive, and Gavin is constantly in tension with his brother, who is doing his best to keep Gavin on the straight and narrow. Nevertheless, the friendship continues and becomes part of the redemptive journey of all of the children.

Jim has a picture in his study of a horse being held by the bridle. He explains to Gavin one day that the picture reminds him of his need for a steadying hand in his own life as he walks the journey that Christ has for him. Gavin is not convinced. He believes himself to be self-sufficient and not in need of anyone's guidance.

Over time and through trial, Gavin begins to see that he too has a need in his life for a steadying Hand and begins to make some changes in his life. This brings some persecution from the boys at school, who are accustomed to his old ways. The bullying reaches a point that nearly costs Gavin his life. Gavin is rescued from his peril by a man with a secret of his own. Some time later, the neighbor teens' grandmother dies, and the secret of the mysterious man comes out, resulting in a fabulously happy ending.

This story, richly written like all Lamplighter books and with positive morals and Biblical lessons to teach, illustrates the fact that coming of age in any century has its trials and pitfalls. It also illustrates that Christ and His redemption are always the same. Teens and pre-teens will enjoy the story of Gavin and his family and friends, and they will gain warning from his life and understanding from his journey, if they choose to accept it.

Product review by Kim Kargbo, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2011